By Faisal Fareed, TwoCircles.net,
Lucknow: Scores of Shia Muslims led by Imam-e-Juma Maulana Kalbe Jawwad staged protest to stake claim over Free Masonic Temple at Ram Tirath Marg in Hazratganj area here on Tuesday. Shias claimed it be to a mausoleum of their Imams and presently being illegally occupied by Jews.
A delegation of Shia clerics tried to gain forceful entry inside the complex. However, their attempts were thwarted by the presence of heavy police force. Later, they gave an ultimatum for 72 hours to the administration for allowing them to inspect the building from inside.
They also demanded that the complex be handed over to them before coming Moharram for enabling them to perform religious activities.
"This is not a Free Masonic Temple as claimed by the administration. It was our waqf property by the name Waqf Karbala Moatmuddaula. It was constructed by King Naseeuruddin Haider in 1815. It came under the posession of East India Company in February 1856 and they handed it over to Jews," said Maulana Jawwad. He also stated that Britishers confiscated the properties of Shias for their participation in independence struggle. "We did change our loyalty thus our property remained in their posession. We will now wage a battle to get it vacated from illegal posession," he said. He claimed that at one point of time even Bada Imambara, Chota Imambara, Tile Wali Masjid were confiscated by Britishers. Even the Sibtainabad Imambara in Hazratganj was converted into a church. "We got back after our struggle and we will do this again this time," he said.
Another cleric Maulana Saif Abbas stated that it will be better if good sense prevails over the administration and the complex is handed over to us. "We should be allowed entry inside the complex within 72 hours for inspection. We will again come on Friday at 2 pm. It is better to start the proceedings for evacuating the illegal occupants," he said.
The Shia Central Board of Waqfs too has written a letter informing the District Magistrate (DM) and DIG of Lucknow about the developments. Board's president, Syed Wasim Rizvi stated that the property is registered with the board and after the announcement of clerics large number of Muslims will turn up on Friday. "We have requested the district administration to make proper arrangements so that the Muslim devotees do not face any problem," he said.
Regarding the Free Masonic Temple, they claimed that the organisation is anti national and is engaged in subversive activities. "There should be a vigil over their activities. We do not want such organisations to stay in India. However, if the government is desirous they can hand over another suitable location to them," said Jawwad.
Meanwhile, the local residents surrounding the complex remained apprehensive due to heavy police force and agitating Muslims. Many of them climbed on their rooftops and locked their doors.
As per the Waqf Board, the property was registered with them by Syed Mohammad Agha Meer who was given the title of Nawab Moatmuddaula Bahadur in 1233 Hijri. The total area is 11.2 bighas which also includes the forest department headquarters. The building has four portions and has round stairs.
A new 21 member committee to manage the affairs of the waqf headed by Maulana Kalbe Jawwad has been constituted.
On his part, ADM Anil Kumar Singh stated that since the property is not government owned, we cannot allow them entry. "It is somebody's property and they are residing there. We cannot allow them. We have accepted the 72 hours deadline and will call the residents there to present their ownership title. Things will be settled when both parties will sit across the table," said Singh.